USF CAM to pilot photography workshop for veterans

Through Breaking Barriers, a photography workshop USF CAM is holding, veterans are granted the opportunity to learn about photography. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Using the arts to bridge communities, the USF Contemporary Art Museum (USFCAM) will be of three museums in Florida to pilot a free workshop exclusively for veterans from July 13 to Aug. 10.

The workshop, called Breaking Barriers, will provide an opportunity for veterans from the USF and Tampa Bay area to learn photography skills and create work for display.

The workshop is a partner with the USF School of Art and Art History, as well as the nationwide “Museums on Call” initiative which presents art-based experiences for veterans and their families.

Breaking Barriers will take place on Fridays from 1-5 p.m. at the USF School of Art and Art History.

“We are really looking at what could serve our community and work with the museum and our arts programming here at USF,” Dolores Coe, the Curator for USF Art in Health Programs said. “We talked to some veterans on campus, off campus and people who work with veterans to try to get a sense of what could be of value.”

Connecting veterans together and providing valuable experiences for both the individual and a group was a main goal in the creation of the workshop.

Stress relief, storytelling and communication are some benefits that the workshop looks to bring veterans, aside from photography skills.

“While we did not engage in artist therapy and this is not a rehabilitation tool, one of the things we focused on here is the real desire to tell one’s story,” Leslie Elsasser, the USFCAM Curator of Education said. “Arts-based practices can really give people an avenue to learn a technique, tell their story and explore a language so to speak, which is the art language.”

The instructor for the five-week workshop is educator and photographer, Jim Reiman.

Reiman received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography/digital imaging from Central Washington University in 2005 and his Masters of Fine Arts from USF in 2009. Students from every level ranging from beginner to advanced are welcomed to the workshop.

During the workshop, students will create pieces to show at the USFCAM in an upcoming exhibition.

“They will be making a range of works throughout the five weeks, so they will have quite a bit to select from,” Coe said.  “They will have a portfolio and we will use that to curate work from each participant.”

Breaking Barriers provides a two-part experience for participants. The first part is the making and learning of photography, whereas the second part consists of visual thinking strategies, which teaches ways to talk about art and connect with others through art as a language.

For those who may not have previous experience in the arts, the workshop looks to expand on how art can be a vessel for exploration and discussion.

“Art can be a really great vehicle to start a conversation and to explore experiences and commonalities,” Elsasser said. “There is that axiom ‘there are a thousand words in a picture’ but that can be really true when you are creating in the practice, and it gives you a way to explore something without putting parameters and protocol on what you should and should not say.”

To register for Breaking Barriers, visit